The A to Zs of Remote Sensing

September 8, 2021

What is remote sensing?

Remote sensing, as the name suggests, means tracking and capturing data on the Earth’s surface remotely. It is typically done by the various satellites surrounding the Earth. The satellites capture the reflection of the sun from the Earth’s surface to create detailed images.

Remote sensing is turning out to be one of the best ways of data collection, primarily because it can be scaled to the entire Earth, giving you a bird’s eye view of things. Data is collected via satellites and aircrafts using radars and sensors. Submarines collect data under the surface of the ocean via the SONAR concept. 

Why is remote sensing important?

The importance of remote sensing is in the name itself, ‘remote’. The world is becoming a closely knit community. Decision makers from one part of the world are now interested and affected by things occurring in another part of the world. With the help of satellite imagery it is possible to surveillance the entire Earth in one go. There is no need to be manually present at the point of data creation. Some of the world’s terrains are highly inaccessible, and yet extremely crucial such as the North and South poles. Remote sensing has shed new light on these landscapes and has allowed relevant stakeholders to act upon the new found information.

The other aspect that makes remote sensing such a mouth watering prospect is the fact that it has applications in a plethora of fields. From everyday life applications to making strategic business decisions, remote sensing can be seen as a gamechanger on many different fronts.

Who uses remote sensing?

Everyone! Yes, that’s right! The application is so versatile and simple that it has integrated deeply into almost every person’s life. GPS is one of the many applications of remote sensing which a layman uses. 

But don’t get us wrong, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Remote sensing has some pretty powerful and technical applications. We all know that knowledge is power, well location information is just that, knowledge. It is helping organizations and businesses make well informed decisions that is propelling them in the right direction.

What is remote sensing used for and what are some of its applications?

Remote sensing has some really useful applications that have had a profound impact on the way organizations conduct business and approach problems. Remote sensing finds use in the fields of environment monitoring, disaster management, agriculture and mapping. The list goes on. We would like to discuss some of the common application in more detail –

Surveillance – It has helped in creating real time maps for easy surveillance. Remote sensing allows covering a large area of land very quickly as a result of the remote nature of the technology. Governments and businesses use it for identifying sites and city improvements 🗺️

Environment preservation – Remote sensing plays a crucial role in landscape monitoring. Given the rate at which natural resources are being exploited, this has to be one of the most important application of the technology as environmentalists can better manage and utilize their resources and make a worthwhile impact in the fight for environment preservation ☘️

Agriculture – Remote sensing has definitely made agriculture a different ball game altogether. Crop monitoring, irrigation systems and resource management are some of the ways in which agriculture is being revolutionized as we speak ☭

Disaster management – Protecting human lives and infrastructure will also be of utmost importance. With increasing uncertainty in which nature behaves as a result of human interventions managing and reducing impacts of natural disasters has become more relevant.  The technology is used in identifying forest fires, floods and storm, especially by rescue teams in the aftermath of these events. 

Is GIS and remote sensing the same?

While the raw spatial data gathered via remote sensing sounds cool and exciting, in itself it is not that useful. The real power of this data is derived when used in conjunction with Geographic Information System (GIS). GIS are powerful software tools that convert raw data into information that allows data scientists and data analysts to draw insights. The raw data is fed into the software as input files and the system can integrate information of all kinds to deduce useful patterns and insights via its algorithms. 

GIS and remote sensing can be considered to be 2 sides of the same coin, 1 not complete without the other. The same goes for the people working behind these systems. Data producers and data analysts rely on each other to get the most out of each other’s role. Finally, collaboration and communication is key!

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